Military Matters: World War II veteran shares memories

Published: Mar. 10, 2020 at 12:47 PM CDT
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95-year old Rudolph Rolison was only a teenager when he left Clarke County, Mississippi to join the Navy.

"I’d been wanting to go in all my life I was trying to get mama to sign the papers, she said nooo you ain't going out there on that water,” said Rolison.

After eventually joining the Navy and training with the Marines in California, Rolison was stationed on the Asian island of Tinian for more than two years.

"We were secret people, they trained us to be secret,” said Rolison. “As we went from one island to another we traveled at night."

Rolison helped build 3 airbases on the island as well as the holding place for the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945 which forced Japan to eventually surrender in World War II.

"When the plane dropped the bomb it dived at an angle with a speed that's kind of unbeknownst to us,” said Rolison.

After Japanese defenses were weakened and overrun, thousands of Japanese soldiers jumped off of what is known as "suicide cliff" to avoid being captured by U.S. forces. Rolison recalls witnessing that moment.

"The Japanese took their people down to that cliff and threw them overboard for them to commit suicide because they didn't want us Americans to have them,” said Rolison.

Rolison shared his important story over dinner at his birthday celebration. His daughter Shelli Bell said she loves listening to her father's war stories and believes they need to be shared.

"I’ve got 13 grand kids that I cannot wait for them to hear the stores because I think that it's important to pass it down,” said Bell.

Rolison now lives in Choctaw County, Alabama, he’s one of the five surviving World War II veterans in that area.

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